BATH TWP. — The Chagrin Falls girls lacrosse team flipped the switch on Thursday and Walsh Jesuit couldn’t keep up in a 17-13 Division II state semifinal win by the Tigers.
Beaten badly early in draw controls, Chagrin Falls (13-3) turned the tables on the Warriors (17-5) in the second half and will play in its fifth consecutive state final on Saturday against Columbus DeSales (20-1).
"That was huge," Walsh coach Julie Hudec said. "I think anytime you can control the draw, you can control the game. They made some adjustments. They’re a good team. They knew what was going on. They had that quicker step than we did in the second half and momentum went their way. We’re a team that follows momentum. When it wasn’t going our way we kind of lost it."
It wasn’t so much Walsh losing momentum as much as it was the Tigers finding their rhythm.
The Warriors built a 7-4 lead with 6:55 left in the first half and were up 8-7 at the break largely on the strength of winning 10 of the 16 draw controls.
After halftime, though, Chagrin Falls reversed that statistic and won 10 of the 16 draw controls with Peyton Gellin (11 draw controls overall) leading the way.
"If you win draw control, you win the game," first-team all-region Walsh midfielder Molly Fankhauser said. "It was tough. We hustled our butt off to try and get the ball back and did that the whole game. I think what matters in the end is hustle and heart. We had it. It just didn’t go our way today."
Led by first-team all-state attack Katie Clark, who had six goals and four assists, the Warriors held court for most of the first half with Fankhauser (four goals, one assist) wreaking havoc on the Chagrin Falls backline.
Although the Tigers bent, they never completely broke and it showed in the final 18:23.
At that point, Walsh was enjoying an 11-9 advantage.
After that, Chagrin Falls closed things out by scoring eight of the final 10 goals as the Warriors had no answer for Tigers attack Kelly Wynveen, who scored six goals and had an assist.
What’s more, Kent State recruit and first team All-Ohio midfielder Anna Gellin scored five goals and had two assists and Peyton Gellin scored three times.
It kept all the momentum in the Chagrin Falls end and left Walsh playing catch up against a team used to playing in the final game of the season.
"I think they’ve got a great program," Fankhauser said. "They’ve got a respectable team. We fought to the end. I love my teammates so much. We did everything that we could. Everyone worked their hardest, but they’re a good team. I respect them."
Although the Tigers will go on to play in the state finals once again, the Warriors have a ton of motivation moving forward after reaching the state semifinal for the second time in three seasons.
Even with starters Tori Ochmann, Annemarie Grebenc, Tatum Arbogast and Fankhauser joining Lauren Flowers as departing seniors, Walsh is loaded with underclassmen ready to take the final.
"This is just the beginning," Clark said. "There’s a lot of drive for us. We have a lot of passion on this team. The seniors might be leaving, but you’ll see much more to this team. We’re all back in it tomorrow. We want it more than ever."